"What I love about the DC food scene over New York's is the sense of ownership people have in their restaurant and level of pride you see in everyone from the bartenders to the cooks to the chef. People really invest themselves here in one place, whereas in New York they tend to bounce around. It really shows in the food and experience. NYC can feel a little impersonal and cold." -- Marjorie Meek-Bradley, executive chef, Ripple, Roofers Union, and Smoked & Stacked
To accompany our eighth annual Best Of issue, we asked the people who are making D.C. great to tell us their favorite things about This Town. They shared the kind of D.C. day they dream about, where the weather is perfect, the farmers market is always open and the museums are free (-er than normal, that is).
With a "Top Chef" alum at the helm and an Instagram account full of food pictures that can induce a Pavlovian response, Smoked and Stacked has met the hype: On opening day, the restaurant moved about 200 pastrami sandwiches and sold out of the smoked meat by 2:30 p.m.
Smoked & Stacked, a fast-casual sandwich shop featuring Meek-Bradley’s house-smoked pastrami, will open Sept. 9 at 1239 Ninth St. NW. The restaurant is one of several that will open in retail space at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center during the next few months.
Menu included 60-day dry-aged beef, Nantucket Bay scallops and ricotta gnocchi, as well as Wainer Family Farm's signature micro greens and produce
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, who helms Ripple in Cleveland Park, is among those a little bewildered by a description. Google describes her restaurant as a “[c]olorful haunt with an inventive, seasonal New American menu & artisan cocktails in a comfy setting.” She characterizes her food as Northern California inspired by Mediterranean flavors and seasonal ingredients. “To me that’s how I cook, but it’s a mouthful.”
Peter Bayne called his partners in Smoked & Stacked as soon as he got the bad news. The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs had determined that their sandwich shop, featuring smoked meats by former “Top Chef” contestant Marjorie Meek-Bradley, qualified as a fast-food restaurant and that their location — on the Ninth Street NW side of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — is not zoned for fast food.
Greenberg’s leisurely path to victory isn’t all that unusual. Marjorie Meek-Bradley, executive chef of both Ripple and Roofers Union in D.C., with a fast-casual pastrami place coming soon, made it to the finals this year onTop Chef Season 13. But she first auditioned three seasons earlier, back in 2012.
For Marjorie Meek-Bradley, chef at Ripple in Washington, D.C., this meant dressing up the classic New York combo of lox and cream cheese. Late dinner shifts and missed meals have led to a deepened relationship with the bodega special: "When I worked in New York, it was the only meal I'd eat at least two or three times a week," she says.
Meek-Bradley holds it down for the ladies. She was the only female finalist on this year's Top Chef, and at Ripple, her kitchen team is almost all female. Like so many powerful women, she's had to deal with people calling her bitchy, but being tough has paid off. Case in point: After showing up at Napa Valley's prestigious The French Laundry earlier in her career, asking to see the chef, and politely refusing to take no for an answer, she got a tryout and won a job on the spot. Her advice for aspiring chefs: "If you want something, go ask for it. Go to that kitchen door with résumé in hand.